It’s a weird sort of feeling, finally writing the last in the series of 10 chronicles only hours before I get on a plane to head back to the wondrous worlds of Vietnam and Cambodia.
It’s only taken me a bloody year to get around to doing them all, but we got here in the end and I’m finishing up this series by writing about the place I think I was the most relaxed I have ever been in my entire life. Hoi An.
You are pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to hotels in Hoi An. There are hundreds of them that stretch for miles, each one as lavish as the next. The best way to pick the best hotel for you is to be picky AF. Whilst Hoi An is filled with amazing hotels and resorts, a lot of them aren’t on the actual beachfront. You have to either cross the main street, or take a short walk to get to the beach, and as someone who is lazy AF on holidays, neither of those options worked for me.
Enter Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa where we had booked our very own beachfront villa, complete with an outdoor shower, a bath the size of my car and with waves splashing up on rocks about two metres from our front door. The hotel had also put us in the villa closest to the pool and poolside bar, so life was just that much more convenient.
The buffet breakfast has got to be up there in my top five of buffet breakfasts of all time. I am not even kidding. The choice of fresh and delicious food seemed endless and it was undoubtedly the best part of waking up.
The second best part of waking up was rolling out of the breakfast restaurant and collapsing onto a sun lounge by the pool.
There’s something so ridiculous and awesome about sitting around a pool that is right next to the ocean. What is also ridiculous is that to get service around the pool you have to WAVE A RED FLAG ON A STICK WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT UNTIL A STAFF MEMBER SEES YOU. Seriously though. I nearly died when I realised that’s how we ordered drinks and had to cover my face when Josh waved it in the air the first time. But don’t worry, I got over that guilt like all the other guilt thanks to a few beers/cocktails.
They also put a giant block of ice in the pool everyday to bring some relief from the constant heat to us guests who are so hard done by. Sometimes drinking icy cold pina coladas whilst in the pool is really hard work, and you need a giant block of ice to take the edge off.
It all came down to the little details at this place.
Every night a staff member came to the room to turn the bed down (IKR) and left a scroll with a story on our pillows. Josh and I ended up looking forward to the story every night, mainly because Josh enjoyed reading it out in a weird David Attenborough-Anthony Hopkins hybrid voice and I almost wet my pants listening every time. #grownups
THINGS TO DO
Get some shit made
Hoi An, just like the other cities we visited, had a completely unique vibe being that it’s much more quiet and relaxed. The main town is a maze of streets filled with tailors who can make you anything you like – dresses, suits, bags, shoes – whatever you fancy, for pretty reasonable prices.
We got the majority of our things made at Kimmy Custom Tailor. Not only did they have great reviews on Tripadvisor, but they had aircon, and that really does make all the difference when the sweats are out of control. The staff in their will look after you and probably end up convincing you to get three dresses custom-made that you don’t end up wearing because you were so swollen by the end of the trip that now they don’t really fit you. Just saying.
Night time river cruise and the markets
Look I’m not a big fan of boats in general, but this was a nice touch at the end of our trip. You’re only in a rickety unstable canoe-boat thing for about 20 minutes, you get to make a wish by placing a lantern in the water and then can breathe a sigh of relief when your feet reach land again.
After that, treat yourself to a walk through the markets at night time. Wandering through the streets covered in colourful lanterns is a magical feeling, especially when you’ve just survived a terrifying boat ride.
Visit the Banh Mi Queen
This place was recommended by nearly every single person we spoke to about Hoi An. They only serve Banh Mi’s and they’re made fresh every day by Madam Khanh, the Banh Mi Queen herself. She’s been running the store for over 30 years or something equally as ridiculous and has become a bit of a legend to locals and to tourists from all around the globe. They taste as good as we were told they would and the cherry on top was that we got to meet her and take a quick selfie, with her holding a koala gift we gave her.
And no, I’m not talking about the erection-related morning glory you sickos. I’m talking about the restaurant.
Whilst some people say the food isn’t the all time best, I beg to differ. This restaurant is PACKED to the rafters, it’s humid AF and it’s probably not a good time if you’re in a rush or don’t like chaos. Despite the craziness there, we ended up going twice for dinner and both times we rolled out of there with legitimate stomach aches from eating too much. The pork belly dish with caramel sauce is hands down once of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life and if you’re anything like me, you will die of happiness once it’s in your mouth.
You can book ahead or just take the risk and hope you don’t have to wait too long when you show up. Smaller groups are more likely to get in way sooner than parties of four or more as the place is legitimately heaving with people.
Wrapping it up …
Whilst Hoi An offers a load of other activities for tourists, we didn’t do much else other than eat, drink and make trips into town to get fitted for clothes, occasionally stopping to get foot massages and stock up on beers. It worked for us and I meant what I said earlier – I was the most relaxed I have ever felt in my life. It was the best way to finish up the most amazing holiday I’ve ever been on.
Reflecting on such an amazing trip, from getting ripped off outside the war museum to meeting our new family in Cambodia, to lying by the pool in Hoi An and realising how lucky I am – gave me all of the feels. For anyone thinking of doing a similar trip, feel free to read through my blogs and shoot me a message if you have any other questions. I want everyone to go to Vietnam and Cambodia and I hope it you’re reading this, that one day you go too.
I apologise if this post seems somewhat rushed.
I am currently sipping on a Bighead beer, counting down the minutes until we hop into an Uber and set off on Vietnam and Cambodia Round 2. I can’t even believe this day has arrived. I know our next trip will be filled with moments of disbelief – that we are actually going back.
Thank you to everyone who has read these chronicles, who has messaged me with questions and comments, who donated towards our house build in Cambodia and for those who have showed me support in every other way, whether it be following my pages, letting me know they read my blogs or even liking my posts. It means more than you know and I am leaving for this next adventure feeling full of love, excitement and gratitude.
Feel free to follow me on my instagram @smithstandard for all of the adventures on the next leg. I’m off to drink beers and eat all of the Vietnamese food I can get my hands on.